There is no place that feels safe in our world today. Schools, churches, homes, and office buildings are all vulnerable. Adults and, to an extent, even children are aware of life's uncertainties. For that reason the image Jesus uses in the gospel today should be highlighted. The only place to know the comfort and strength of always feeling safe is in the arms of Jesus. Just as a mother hen protects her chicks, Jesus protects us by having died for us and giving us the promise and hope of everlasting life.
One of my favorite children's sermons uses the hen and chick imagery from the gospel. My grandfather, a 93 year old retired pastor, made up a story when I was little, called Peep and Crow. Some of the details have faded with time, but I usually just make that part up. The basic gist is that Peep and Crow are two chicks whose mama hen tells them both that they must always listen for her special call. It's a call that she makes when it's important for them to come to her, and especially to keep them safe from the chicken hawk.
Peep and Crow are out scratching for bugs, when they hear their mama calling. One of the chicks does as he was told and turns right away to run toward mama. The other keeps chasing a bug he's trying to get, and the next thing he knows, he sees a big shadow pass overhead--it's the CHICKEN HAWK. So he runs as fast as he can, and he just barely makes it back under his mama's wing.
The main thing is not so much the story, but the use of a long piece of cloth, maybe a big bedsheet. At the end, I put the cloth across my shoulders and have all the kids crawl up under it, like I have really wide wings. I don't say that Jesus will protect us from bad things, but that Jesus loves us and looks out for us like a big mama hen, and staying close to Jesus is way better than being out there all by ourselves.
I try not to push so much for the "moral of the story" as just to give the kids the story or the image and leave them with it.
Laura in TX